The Cranky Taxpayer

Embarrassing the Governor


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Doing the Funky Data


Mickey VanDerwerker enlivened the winter of 2004-05 with an email:
 
Our Governor went to an elementary school near here to dance with the kids. He went to fulfill a promise he made to them that if they improved their SOL scores, he'd come dance.  Supposedly, they improved so much that they had a 100% pass rate.  He danced the funky chicken.

Problem is that the actual pass rate for the fifth graders at this school (the only official tested grade in this building that houses 4-7) is 73%, down from 76% the year before (and English pass rates dropped from 83% to 50% in the same year). With our excellent gaming the numbers system, the reported pass rate is 100% (it may actually be higher - our Board of Ed won't let you report more than 100%). This is because kids who failed in third grade or fifth grade the previous year can retake the 3rd grade test in 4th grade or the 5th grade test in 6th grade. If they pass on the retake, they are counted as test passers but not as test takers, thereby inflating greatly the bottom line.

So here's my thought. A little more than a quarter of the kids at this school failed the math test. That's about 20 kids. They (and their parents) read in the paper that 100% of the kids passed math. Do you figure they are so bad at math that they don't know 100% usually means "all?"

In fact, the school was Jeter-Watson in Covington.  Here is the story as posted on the Governor's PASS web page.  Notice the nice picture of the Governor dancing the Funky Data.

And here are the data from the State Education Department that give the lie to the "perfect score" advertised on the Governor's Web page:

SCHOOL NAME LOW GRADE HIGH GRADE GRADE 5 MATH 2002 PASS GRADE 5 MATH 2003 PASS GRADE 5 MATH 2004 PASS
JETER-WATSON INTERMEDIATE 4 7 42.8571 76.2712 73.6842

As Mickey pointed out, 76.3 and 73.7 are hardly "perfect scores."   Yet the Education Department shows Jeter-Watson as fully accredited for math with a perfect 100 pass rate both for 2003

SCHOOL NAME MATH
JETER-WATSON INTERMEDIATE

100

and 2003.

School Name

Accreditation  Pass  Rate for  Math

Accreditation Rating for Math
JETER-WATSON INTERMEDIATE 100 Meets Full  Accreditation

How is this possible?  How does a 76.3 pass rate become become 100?  How does a decline to 73.7 remain at 100?

Because the Board of Education is running a scam: They cook the numbers.  And now, their corrupt system has led the Governor to embarrass himself (far more than his dancing ever could).

Indeed, looking at the pattern of the other tests at Jeter-Watson, we see a lot of other less than "perfect scores."  The school enjoyed a nice general improvement from 2002 to 2003 but a general decline from 2003 to 2004 includes a dismal drop in the English scores:

There is no "perfect score" in sight here.  It looks to me as if the Board of Education, which has been trying to fool the public with its cooked accreditation numbers, has turned the Governor into a dancing fool.

 

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Last updated 08/13/09
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